Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby captured the imagination of Regency society. They received a stream of visitors to the unpretentious little cottage which, over the years, they transformed into a Gothic fantasy of projecting stained glass and elaborately carved oak. Inside Plas Newydd today, an exhibition including some of their possessions and an audio tour bring their story to vivid life. You can stroll through their gardens and along their riverside walk. And you can take tea, as Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott and the Duke of Wellington have all done before you.
The Horseshoe Falls is a picturesque semi circular weir designed by the famous engineer Thomas Telford in 1806 to supply water to the Llangollen branch of the Shropshire Union Canal. Until the coming of the railways, the canal was busy with narrow boats carrying slates to Birmingham and London. Unfortunately, the canal took so much water from the river that many of the mills on the river Dee went out of business.
Llantysilio church welcomed two famous visitors in the 19th Century when Robert Browning, the poet, and actress Helen Faucit, who lived at nearby Bryntysilio, worshipped there. A plaque commemorates Browning’s visit to the church in 1886.
Another interesting feature is outside the church. In the graveyard are the re-interred remains of some of the skeletons uncovered during excavations at Vallé Crucis Abbey in the mid 19th century.
Llantysilio church was probably built in the 15th Century, although there is earlier carved stonework around the small north window.
It is dedicated to St Tysilio who was the son of Brochwel Ysgythrog, Prince of Powys in the early 7th Century, who is thought to have died at the Battle of Chester in 613.
In just under 5 minutes drive from Bryn Howel you’ll come to Panorama Walk, a minor road which boasts some seriously attractive views of the local scenery even if you’re just driving along. Along this route, the viewpoint called The Panorama is thought to be one of the very best viewing points in the whole of Wales
Valle Crucis Abbey
Cistercian monks loved all things austere. Solitude ruled absolute. Finding this remote yet magical location must have at least raised a smile or two amongst the serious-minded bretheren.
Building work got underway in 1201. Seven centuries later and the abbey is one of the best preserved in Wales. Even the monks’ fishpond is still full of water!
From its cloister to chapter house, with striking rib-vaulted roof, this abbey was shaped by the devout nature of its inhabitants. The abbey was also remarkably self-sufficient thanks to the lay brethren. They were happy to leave the choir monks to their prayers while they got on with the job of tending the land. All friends together? Not quite. The monks observed their daily offices in the choir, separated by a screen from the lay brethren who worshipped in the nave of the abbey church.
Far from an easy life, Valle Crucis Abbey suffered a serious fire and numerous attacks but went on to earn a reputation for its appreciation of the literary arts. In 1535 it was ranked the second richest Cistercian monastery after Tintern. By this time, the Cistercians had relaxed their orthodox austerity. A comfortable heated suite was created for the abbot. This new found wealth and hospitality didn’t last long. Valle Crucis was duly dissolved by royal decree in 1537.